REVIEW SCULPTURE, HANGING FABRIC & OBJECTS LAURA ALDRIDGE: CATS ARE NOT IMPORTANT Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 3 Apr ●●●●●
Glasgow-based, ex-Transmission gallery committee member Laura Aldridge exhibits knot-tied sculptures in pastel hues arranged against the wall, hanging fabrics and a low plinth on which a range of carefully placed domestic objects, fruits and textured images are placed. She plays with the viewer’s perceptual plane: an image of a cave, with people looking up and out, draws us in. Other symbols of comfort and
domesticity are spread throughout. An arrangement of pillows covered with tie dyed pillowcases has been laid out around the gallery floor. A seemingly inviting playground for cats, but where are they? The artist stipulates that cats are not important, but the invocation of felines is perturbing – you cannot help but recall the huge cat phenomenon spawned by the internet where websites have been dedicated to cat behaviour. Cats have been given a voice in popular culture in the form of kitty pidgin (‘Hai, I am in ur galry, scratching ur art’). Even though Aldridge’s tableau invites us to look down onto the work, you feel compelled to search online for Ceiling Cat in a struggle with Basement Cat. At the back of the exhibition hangs a
folded sheet of organza filled with dried camomile flowers. Once again one makes the connotation with cats: should the flowers not be replaced with that recreational substance for feline enjoyment? Not quite catnip for viewers. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW COLLAGE BUT WHAT OF FRANCES STARK, STANDING BY ITSELF, A NAKED NAME, BARE AS A GHOST TO WHOM ONE WOULD LIKE TO LEND A SHEET? CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 3 Apr ●●●●●
Los Angeles-based artist, Frances Stark, uses collage on paper and canvas board to create gentle and visually pared down works which often leave large areas of the surface white and empty. She covers the rest with textual inscriptions and juxtaposes these with images to form hieroglyphic-like collages. Initially better known for her art criticism and creative writing, the visual component of her practice has taken a stronger stand in recent years. Her current show spans a period in her oeuvre from 2001 to the present.
An earlier work, ‘In-box’ (2004) is exceptionally well crafted – both in its execution and its visual intrigue: a vertical collage made up of cut out pieces of paper, not layered, but meticulously laid next to one another so that they grow into a tall heap of scrap paper, loaded into a cardboard box. All of this happens on a thin
sheet of paper, where there is no room for error. Some of her later works revisit these techniques, as evidenced in the striking piece called ‘50% Head’, made in 2009, where a brain-like object has been constructed out of tiny pieces of paper taped together and the words 50% head collaged from cut out newspaper letters. Here the pleasure is in the viewing. As shown by the title of the exhibition, Stark
implicates herself in her works. These works could not have been made by a man, which is interesting when you look at her most recent three-dimensional works: in complete contrast to her earlier feminine trademark, the ‘Inchoate Incarnate’ series take on a more hermaphroditic quality. Three somewhat amorphous figures are dressed in black kimonos on which old fashioned telephone dials have been embroidered. They reveal something uneasy about the artist’s changing practice, or maybe they indicate an embryonic, formless prenatal stage? Perhaps this inchoate matter could be transformed
into a better blend of the divine feminine with her masculine counterbalance. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW PRINTMAKING THE PRINTMAKER’S ART National Gallery Complex, Edinburgh, until Sun 23 Mar ●●●●●
The oft misunderstood art of printmaking is represented here by masters of the craft, both Scottish and international. Visitors may struggle to find the darkened room down in the basement where the 30 plus collected prints are situated, but it is well worth a few moments of quiet reflection despite the small number of works. A clear explanation of the processes involved in printmaking sits alongside the artist guides, and the viewer is taken on a journey from the earliest form of print (woodcuts, including examples from as early as the 1500s) to the forerunner of modern print, the lithograph. Frustratingly, sloping glass prevents close examination of the exquisite detail found in Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’, or Marcantonio Raimondi’s delicate drypoint and etching depictions produced in collaboration with Raphael – but this is a necessary evil of preservation along with the dim lighting.
Whether you prefer the delicate touch of Whistler’s plates, or the darkness of Goya’s imagination, to see both side by side with Scotland’s own contributors, Sir David Young Cameron and Sir David Wilkie, is a rare opportunity. Even Toulouse Lautrec and William Blake are represented. The Printmaker’s Art is an education for those whom printmaking is a mystery and a welcome (though small) display of this under-represented segment of the National Galleries of Scotland’s collection for others. (Miriam Sturdee)
18 Mar–1 Apr 2010 THE LIST 89